Community is a sitcom that, if you get it, then you really get it. It’s a show that for a certain breed of people (those people who felt Arrested Development was made just for them) fits nicely into that ‘greatest show ever made’ mould that is reserved for anything cancelled unjustly after only a few seasons. This current season, the third (and potentially final), hasn’t been nearly as good as the second. However, when it has hit, is has been as good as the series has ever been. Case in point, number nine on the best pieces of writing list.
Remedial Chaos Theory.
This episode is a masterclass in not just sitcom writing but writing in general. The entire episode is worthy of a place on this list, but it’s one aspect in particular which takes the ninth spot.
The episode is structured around a moving in party for two characters, Troy and Abed. As the party gets going, they order pizza and to determine who goes to pick it up, the lead character Jeff rolls a die. As he does, Abed warns him that each number rolled could result in any one of six possible realities. And so it does. We see events take place showing what would happen depending on which character goes to pick up the pizzas. This results in quick fire payoff gags, such as fairly early on when Troy describes the pizza delivery guy as ‘hideous’, only for us to find out when Britta goes to pick up the pizza that she falls in love with him.
But the real winning piece of writing comes right at the end. In each iteration of events, the first thing that occurs is Britta flicking an iPod on and starting to sing Roxanne by The Police. Each time she does, Jeff tells her to shut up. It’s a nice reminder of where we are in each reality and the one constant in each one. That is, until the very end. When it dawns on everyone that Jeff chose a die because it has six options (and him being the seventh, thus ruling him out of having to pick up the pizza) they send him downstairs to pick the pizza up. Cue the music, and Britta singing along. With no Jeff to tell her to be quiet, she starts dancing and pretty soon everyone is dancing and getting along. It’s the only timeline that ends happily and it’s almost sad that it takes the removal of one character to do so. Smart, emotional and very, very good writing.
The episode also has this scene which is brilliant.